Joey Ryan On ‘This Is Wrestling’, The Audience Connecting With His Story

Joey Ryan spoke with the media following the screening of his new documentary This Is Wrestling: The Joey Ryan Story at Starrcast. Ryan says the project was brought to his attention after director James Agiesta contacted him and laid out his plans for the film, adding that the pitch was clear and things were easy when filming started, as the crew would not be intrusive to his schedule.

The documentary covered a number of points in Ryan’s life, including when he had a tryout with WWE back several years ago. In the film, Ryan had said he got ‘nine out of ten’ in the company to vouch for him, but the one that didn’t was former WWE developmental trainer Bill DeMott. Ryan says he’s still never been given an official reason why DeMott wouldn’t speak in his favor as a possible WWE hire, but has heard rumblings that it came down to DeMott feeling like outside talent outshining his own trainees might make him look bad:

“Nothing official, but some people would say that he was very protective of the guys that he trained,” Ryan said. “If an outsider came in and did better or looked better, then the [WWE] office would be mad at him, like ‘why aren’t your guys as good as this guy’ so he tried to manipulate it for his guys to be better because he was insecure about his job.”

Another segment in the documentary featured Ryan speaking about Bar Wrestling, the Los Angeles-based promotion he created in 2017. Ryan said he’s happy to provide an outlet for up-and-coming talent to work in a world of growing independent companies. While he doesn’t feel like the constant cycle of talent signing with a major promotion will hurt his company, he did say one point of frustration stems from not having enough spots on each show. Ryan’s shows are always six matches and a set run time due to the venue, and he hopes talent understand that it’s not about their level of talent, but it’s about a lack of open spots on the card.

“Not really, that’s a little bit—the only thing about Bar Wrestling is that it gets frustrating at times and I have to delegate some of the work out to others is because everybody wants to work there.” Ryan said. “Everybody wants to come to every show and I’m a stickler about there only being six matches, my show can only be two-and-a-half hours long because people are standing at a bar. I feel like maybe if I don’t use somebody they might think I don’t think they’re good enough, but it’s not the case. It’s just spots. I’m a little bit worried about accidentally rubbing talent the wrong way because I don’t book them, but it’s really not about talent, it’s about spots.”

Ryan said his own story isn’t interesting to him (since he’s living it), but he’s happy to see how people have responded to the documentary so far, saying it shows people that he’s more than the guy in the viral video clips:

“To me, the story is boring because it’s me. Everyone seems to be connecting to it and everyone seems to be enjoying it.” Ryan said. “I showed it to my parents, and even my mom—I don’t really talk about work with my parents—she said ‘I just learned more about you in an hour than you’ve told me in years.’ So I feel like people are getting to know me more than the viral clips that they see, which is cool. I feel like people are getting to know me a little bit better.

This Is Wrestling: The Joey Ryan Story is making stops at various film festivals, including tomorrow night‘s screening prior to Bar Wrestling 37: Sashay Away. The documentary also won Best Picture at the IFS Film Festival last month.

Check out the full interview below:

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